Well, here I go again! Off on yet another adventure. One could suppose that my blog title is appropriate. Equally appropriate is the motto that I adopted when I came to Botswana – “Have suitcase, will travel”.

The big news around the Bonaso office just before Christmas was an invitation that came in from the Government of Botswana’s Ministry of Health, Department of Primary Care. It was for a week long planning meeting in Zanzibar. Oscar and Lawrence had teased me that I might as well stay in Zanzibar following my vacation so that I could participate in this meeting.

What I couldn’t understand was how and why the Government of Botswana was holding their government meeting in Zanzibar! Well, it turns out that this Zanzibar is much closer to home than Zanzibar, Tanzania. The Botswana Zanzibar is actually a border crossing in the eastern region of Botswana connecting it with South Africa and Zimbabwe. After googling it for quite some time I finally learned that the region is known as Tuli Block. Here is a link so you can learn more about it  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuli_Block

It is situated on the banks of the Limpopo River and it is largely farms, game reserves and bush. Apparently, I am going to be smack dab in the bush, oh yippee!!! Hopefully, I will have access to running water 😉 I have also be told that the largest population of big cats is also in this area as they follow the game that drinks at the river. The cat population includes lions, cheetahs and leopards. I am bound and determined to get up close and personal with a lion, maybe even give it a hug. Tabuche swears that I will be eaten if I try and that he will really miss me!

I will actually be working hard while I am there, and the fact that Bonaso has been invited to participate in these meetings is testament to the progress that we are making.  I will be the sole representative and the meeting’s goal is to assess and make recommendations on each of the 14 DMSAC Plans (District Multi-sectorial Aids Committees) which are part of the Government of Botswana’s Ministries of Health and Local Government.

It will be excellent experience for me, and Oscar’s intent in sending me is that I will be able to build capacity within the government sector to accurately assess and make recommendations that empower the civil society organizations to work more cooperatively and effectively with local government structures. A tall order but one that I am happy to work on.

My only concern is what kind of lasting impact that I may have on GoB bureaucrats. The Ministry has arranged for us all to travel on a bus together Sunday to the lodge in the bush where we will be staying for the entire week, returning on Saturday. Take one ‘Cheryl’ and place her in the presence of 30 Batswana government employees for a whole entire week with only the bush and wild animals to escape to, what do you think might happen? It should make for some interesting blogs when I return to Gaborone 😉

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